Kris Bryant has never seemed like a law-and-order kind of guy. He doesn’t wear a badge and, as far as we know, has never made a citizen’s arrest after seeing an expired license plate.
But he has talked with Cubs teammates about instituting a player-run system of fines for mental mistakes — not running hard to first, missing a cutoff man, etc. This is in response to a lack of attention to detail that has haunted the team the last few seasons.
It’s a very good idea. He didn’t ask, but here are some issues that really need addressing and punishing. All proceeds go to Crane Kenney’s invisible wheelbarrow of cash.
Each new photo or film clip of David Ross yukking it up with Anthony Rizzo, $500. The perception is that the manager and first baseman, former teammates, are too close. This perception possibly exists because a tickle fight seems ready to break out anytime the two are together. If they don’t keep their distance, it will cost them.
Each Brandon Morrow injury, $1,000. The star-crossed reliever was just getting over a strained chest muscle last week when he felt a twinge in his right calf while running. That led to an MRI exam, which led to the discovery of a mild tear and a trip to the sidelines for at least 10 days. That led to another reminder, as if any more were needed, that Morrow hasn’t pitched since July 2018 because of injuries. The amount of money collected here could fund a starting pitcher via the trade market. Or a new Wrigleyville hotel.
Each rip on Joe Maddon, $100. It’s not that the former Cubs manager should get immunity from criticism by the people who played for him. It’s just that it’s too easy. Ripping a previous manager or coach is standard procedure in sports. The new guy is always smarter, funnier and has mintier breath than his predecessor. Until the new guy eventually gets fired. I’d take players’ revelations a lot more seriously if they blasted the manager while he was still their boss. So enough with Cubs players condemning Joe’s lax ways. Also, leave that to me.
Each leftover Maddon motivational T-shirt, $90,000. Any player seen wearing a “The Process Is Fearless’’ T-shirt has to donate money to the kitty. And if, deep down, he thinks he needs a shirt to tell him to “Do Simple Better,’’ he must turn himself in, throw himself at the mercy of the court and hope he doesn’t get told to “Respect $90,000.’’
Each mention of Jon Lester’s grit, $100. If I may generalize here: We all admire Lester for being the first big-name free agent to sign with the Cubs before they were a real force. And we admire the innings he amasses each season. But if the 36-year-old struggles for a second consecutive season, nobody will want to hear about his toughness, his infamous irritability or the fact that his dog is afraid to look him in the eye after a loss.
Each mention of Marquee Sports Network, $100. It’s not that I’m bored to tears whenever there’s a mention of the Cubs’ new TV network and its struggles to line up carriers . . . OK, it’s exactly that! Just tell me when Kenney, the club’s president of price tags, has figured out how to do his job and tell me when the games start. You want to discuss Marquee? Pony up the fine money, you inside-broadcasting nerds!
Each time Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts plays down the correlation between winning and payroll size, $1 million. He did it again in an opening-of-camp news conference last month: “The most financial resources doesn’t always equate to the most wins.’’ Nobody wants to hear a billionaire declare that, trust him, caviar isn’t nearly as good as it’s made out to be. Let us be the judge of that, Tommy Boy.
Each dig at Yu Darvish when he struggles, $100. Chicago owes the right-hander an apology. He arrived in town with a reputation for shrinking in big moments, thanks to his inability as a Dodger to get out of the second inning in two 2017 World Series starts against Houston. The Astros have been exposed as a pile of sleaze, but the damage was done to Darvish’s reputation. A series of injuries has only added to the “soft’’ label. He was one of the few bright spots for the Cubs last season, but more struggles this year could bring back the ugliness from fans. Here’s a deterrent: Do you really want to be relieved of more money by the Cubs?
Each time Ross moves Jason Heyward to center field, $500. The manager said recently that he wants to keep Heyward in right, where he’s a Gold Glove-level defender. That’s what Maddon always said, too, but Heyward ended up in center in 84 games last season. The Cubs aren’t better with him there. Don’t give in to the temptation, David.
Also, I’m pretty sure you just hugged Rizzo again, Skipper. Or will soon. That’s $500.